Tarim mummies

AJ
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Thu Jun 21, 2007 3:22 pm Post

"The Mummies of Urumchi" by Elizabeth Wayland Barber. Archaeologist Barber reports on her examination of Caucasian-looking mummies, up to four thousand years old, exhumed from the deserts of north-western China. Her main focus is on the textiles buried with the mummies. (Had to happen, I guess: a female archaeologist examines the remains of an ancient people and spends most of her book talking about what they wore.) I'm amazed at the ingenuity and skill of this ancient people and moved by their love and care for their dead.

I've already bought the thicker and denser "The Tarim Mummies" by J.P. Mallory and Victor H. Mair and plan to delve into it after I've finished Barber. I want to examine their arguments for why they think the mummies were descended from proto-Celts. I'd like to believe their theory, but I want to test it first. The more I read, the more I'm drifting towards the idea that the mummies were descended from Iranian and Altaic peoples.

ho
howarth
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Thu Jun 21, 2007 5:41 pm Post

AJ wrote:(Had to happen, I guess: a female archaeologist examines the remains of an ancient people and spends most of her book talking about what they wore.)


Pre-emptive strike: care to reconsider that judgement, before lightning strikes you dead? Besides, I imagine that textiles reveal an enormous amount of knowledge about ancient people, from their weaving methods to the kinds of animals or plants raised, quality of terrain and climate, and even whether or not males were allowed to make careless comments?

PS to Maria and Alexandria: breathe.

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AmberV
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Thu Jun 21, 2007 8:48 pm Post

howarth wrote:PS to Maria and Alexandria: breathe.


Oh marvelous, I'm exempt!

Rwaarrrrrr!
.:.
Ioa Petra'ka
“Whole sight, or all the rest is desolation.” —John Fowles

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alexwein
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Thu Jun 21, 2007 9:16 pm Post

Oh, I long ago gave up getting worked up about such comments. For all I know, AJ is a female and commenting on something she finds humorous at the expense of her own gender. If not, well, it reveals more about the author of such comments than it does about me. My husband had to teach me how to dress!

Alexandria
Inspiration is for amateurs...the rest of us just show up.
-Chuck Close
http://alexandriapallas.com

AJ
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Thu Jun 21, 2007 10:46 pm Post

Thankyou, Alexandria, for a breath of calm.

Yes, howarth, Elizabeth Barber does go into exhaustive detail on the weaving methods, materials, environment, and possible social structures that went into making the ancient shirts, pants, boots, hats, shawls, etc, she examines.

Here's the opening paragraph of chapter 1, titled "Mystery Mummies":
Calf-length A-line dresses with contrastive piping lead the ladies' fashions, in this year of the great burial. While red and blue with dashes of turmeric yellow continue to dominate the color palette, the stunning effect of bright red trim in maroon suits along with striped leggings remains popular among the gentlemen....

(Any typos are mine, not Barber's.)

The skill and detail that went into the manufacture of the clothing Barber analyses make my own attempts at knitting and sewing look positively primitive.

howarth, I'm sure you think you're doing good, defending the honour of women the way you did. On the other hand, I don't like you using aggressive language to me, such as "pre-emptive strike" and picturing me struck dead. I also don't like you characterising my comments as "careless" in relation to a text I'm reading that you haven't read. Please don't do these things again; I would like to be able to have conversations with you.

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kewms
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Thu Jun 21, 2007 11:55 pm Post

It seems to me that all of archaeology is largely concerned with examining the remains of ancient people and talking about what they wore, how they decorated their homes and persons, what they ate, and whatever other details of ancient housekeeping the archaeologist can glean. So I'm not sure why AJ felt compelled to comment on a female archaeologist's emphasis on textiles. How would one expect a male archaeologist to handle the same material?

From the brief excerpt posted, Dr. Barber's engaging writing about a potentially dull subject is at least as noteworthy as her gender.

Katherine

AJ
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Fri Jun 22, 2007 12:22 am Post

kewms wrote:So I'm not sure why AJ felt compelled to comment on a female archaeologist's emphasis on textiles.

It's a major area of her expertise. Her website lists her three books:
Prehistoric Textiles: The Development of Cloth in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages with special reference to the Aegean (Princeton, 1991; 470 pp.; the technological history of early textiles); Women's Work--The First 20,000 Years (Norton, 1994; 334 pp.; the social and economic history of early cloth and clothing); and The Mummies of Urumchi.... all three books received book prizes from the Costume Society of America...


kewms wrote:How would one expect a male archaeologist to handle the same material?

A quick flick through Mallory and Mair's book, which I mentioned in my original post, seems to show a focus on linguistics, genetics, and bladed tools (hoes and swords).

Ma
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Fri Jun 22, 2007 3:28 am Post

Quite late to the discussion, but I _have_ to add a story:

I "did" pottery for my doctoral dissertation. One day when I washed some thousand sherds in the countryside of a beautiful island in the south, elder ladies with round backs and twisted legs returned from their paddy fields, chatting, laughing at me and saying: "Washing the dishes? It's a woman's job!"

breathing,
Maria :wink: [/u]

AJ
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Fri Jun 22, 2007 3:40 am Post

:wink: Nice story. What did you say to them, Maria?

Whenever guests offer to help with the dishes, my wife says, "It's okay, I have a dishwasher. His name is AJ."

Ma
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Fri Jun 22, 2007 3:47 am Post

AJ wrote::wink: Nice story. What did you say to them, Maria?

Whenever guests offer to help with the dishes, my wife says, "It's okay, I have a dishwasher. His name is AJ."


Hmmm, I think I did what I always do if I do not know what to do: I laughed. But I am quite sure that later in the evening when I went to the place where I really belong (the kitchen!) I took one of these excellent larger Japanese kitchen knifes, sat down on the floor and tried to stab it into my hungry stomach. Somehow I survived, coward that I am...

Maria

AJ
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Fri Jun 22, 2007 4:06 am Post

Sounds serious. Are you having thoughts of stabbing yourself now?

da
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Fri Jun 22, 2007 4:13 am Post

But I am quite sure that later in the evening when I went to the place where I really belong (the kitchen!) I took one of these excellent larger Japanese kitchen knifes, sat down on the floor and tried to stab it into my hungry stomach. Somehow I survived, coward that I am...


Maria!

My guess is, you survived for very good reasons.

:)

Besides, it's been some time since I consulted my "protocol book", but as I recall women are supposed to cut the neck arteries instead of the belly—more gracious, you see. And you were wearing a white kimono weren't you? And shouldn't you have been using a tonto instead of a sashimi hocho?

Thank heavens you restrained yourself, it just wouldn't have been correct. And . . . we wouldn't be graced with your presence.

Dave

Ma
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Fri Jun 22, 2007 4:20 am Post

dafu wrote:My guess is, you survived for very good reasons.

:)

Besides, it's been some time since I consulted my "protocol book",
...


O no, all my preparations were wrong I am afraid. The time I study was governed by the rule: Kill everybody who might get into your way before they do, not so much: Kill yourself whenever you like, as long as you follow the rules. So, I did not know about it. And I did not know how nice the people in Chicago can be. Never too old to learn.

Maria

ho
howarth
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Fri Jun 22, 2007 4:30 am Post

AJ wrote:howarth, I'm sure you think you're doing good, defending the honour of women the way you did. On the other hand, I don't like you using aggressive language to me, such as "pre-emptive strike" and picturing me struck dead. I also don't like you characterising my comments as "careless" in relation to a text I'm reading that you haven't read. Please don't do these things again; I would like to be able to have conversations with you.


Sorry, AJ, you haven't been around here very long. It's a writer's forum and we tend to use certain literary devices, like IRONY and also go in for a bit of heavy teasing amongst friends. There once was a wondrous chap named Eiron who blasted us all now and then for our silly, pompous, and ill-considered remarks. Alas, he has been missing for many months. He would have skewered you in a thousand ways. If you think I was serious about wishing you dead, for heaven's sake, lighten up!

To AmberV: mea culpa, goddess of code :oops:

AJ
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Fri Jun 22, 2007 4:51 am Post

howarth, I've objected to your remarks, to no avail it seems. Harrassment is no joke. I want you to stop.